This chapter focuses on a snapshot of current immigration patterns and a profile of the US immigrant population. It discusses the impetus behind immigration. Immigration is not only a current national issue. Given the great diversity and myriad needs of the growing immigrant population, it is essential that social workers understand the legal and political as well as psychological and social issues surrounding immigration. Chain migration is a process of movement from immigrants’ homelands that builds on networks of familiar social relationships to construct neighborhoods or communities within the places of habitation, which reflect the cultural norms and societal expectations of the homelands. Social workers who work with immigrants need to understand the personal immigration history of their clients in order to best help them. At many schools of social work, students have learned to view immigrant issues through a human rights lens.
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This chapter discusses legal methods that noncitizens can use to enter and stay in the United States (US) for a long term. US immigration law sets out a variety of ways in which noncitizens can enter the country legally. When confronted with a noncitizen client, service providers may want to ascertain how the person first entered and what immigration status the person is in now, as a way to later determine a legal remedy. However, knowing the legal classification and method of entry will help the service provider in understanding the legal as well as social service needs and aid the provider in making referrals to immigration specialists as well as other places that could help with the client’s needs. For noncitizens entering the US who are already recognized as refugees, the service provider’s role is perhaps most relevant in providing mental health counseling.
This chapter focuses on some culturally sensitive and competent ways to serve immigrant clients by examining what is meant by cultural competence in social work practice and how this applies to work with immigrant populations. It examines the institutional arrangements that contribute to ongoing racism and xenophobia and the kinds of responses needed to help integrate immigrants into the fabric of American society. Culturally competent social work practice (CCSWP) is an ethical responsibility for all social workers and an absolute necessity when working with immigrant populations. The social work profession has been very concerned about defining and preparing practitioners to engage in culturally competent practice. Learning to be culturally competent practitioners is not only important for professional social workers but also needs to be incorporated into the education of future social workers. Cultural competence begins with administrative support and encouragement, quality supervision and oversight, strong peer relationships, and manageable caseloads.
This chapter addresses theoretical and conceptual resources for practice with immigrant populations with the intention of identifying conceptual frameworks and ideas that can serve as guides to assist in the development of practice orientations and skills, which meet the multifaceted needs of immigrants and their communities. It discusses assumptions about the role of theory as well as implications for skills and interventions. The chapter discusses theories and concepts that can frame practice with immigrants, beginning with themes and issues currently discussed in the sociopolitical context and the American sensibility about how to respond to immigrant presence. Overreliance on factors related to individual behavior risks blaming the victim, which can result in social workers colluding with a largely unresponsive and unreceptive environment. Theories that promote an understanding of the sociopolitical context of immigrant populations, as well as linguistic and cultural competencies, are essential for effective social work practice.
This chapter deals with major health care issues that social workers need to be familiar with in working with immigrants. It provides an introduction to the many complex, interconnected issues that social workers and their immigrant clients face as they navigate the US health care system in an attempt to obtain quality health care. The chapter focuses on some of the implications for social work practice that arise from public health issues and provides discussion questions and several case studies. Social workers can and should be vigilant in advocating for increased translator and interpreter services at their agency or medical setting, not just for the convenience of the patient, but for his or her safety and improved health. Social workers in the field of health care must actively address the issues of language, culture, and income/health insurance status as well as legal status when working with immigrants.
This chapter explores the definition of mental health as a culturally prescribed concept with special emphasis on the topic of strength-based and resiliency-focused assessment. It discusses the complexities of psychological assessment with new immigrants as well as the determination of appropriate levels of intervention, including specialized treatment options. Culturally and linguistically appropriate therapeutic services and models will increase the effectiveness and efficaciousness of mental health treatment. A major mental health vulnerability in new immigrant populations is often the variety of traumatic experiences that has forced these individuals into the role of immigrants. Personal crisis, including any psychological/addictive symptoms experienced, should be addressed immediately by the mental health professional. The primary relationship between immigrant clients and mental health practitioners should be created and maintained. In initiating mental health interventions with immigrant children, it is ideal to engage the caretakers and complete family system in order to ensure treatment compliance and success.
- Go to chapter: Crimes and Immigration: Civil Advocacy for Noncitizens at the Intersection of Criminal and Immigration Law
Crimes and Immigration: Civil Advocacy for Noncitizens at the Intersection of Criminal and Immigration Law
Each year, the United States (US) Department of Homeland Security removes hundreds of thousands of people from the US. Increasingly, the federal agency tasked with removing noncitizens has prioritized removal of those who have had contact with the criminal justice system. Those who are not citizens of the US may face additional consequences related to their immigration status, such as ineligibility to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent residents, inability to travel abroad, ineligibility for US. citizenship, mandatory detention in an immigration facility, or removal. The three primary sections of immigration law affecting noncitizens charged with crimes are grounds of inadmissibility, grounds of deportability and good moral character. Further complicating matters for noncitizens, immigration consequences may be triggered absent a final disposition of guilt in a criminal court. Civil practitioners are invaluable advocates to immigrants and refugees who encounter the criminal justice system.
This chapter focuses on a profile of low-wage immigrant workers. It explains the rights and remedies available to immigrant workers under labor laws and explores the conditions and factors that lead to their abuse and exploitation. The chapter illustrates the barriers that prevent employers from enforcing labor and employment laws, including lax enforcement of laws by government agencies, the threat of deportation by immigration agents, and government programs that hinder workers from exercising their rights. Immigrant workers will be essential to keep the economy strong, to serve as caretakers for the aging population, to contribute to existing health care and Social Security systems, and to help shape the future of the Unites States. Despite government safeguards and nonprofit advocacy, the unfortunate reality for many immigrant workers is that violations of labor and employment laws by their employers are rampant, particularly in low-wage industries.
The children of immigrants can be today’s science competition winners and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, nurses and doctors, teachers, homeowners, and taxpayers. This chapter discusses ways in which social workers can help families get their children into school and obtain the educational services they need. The main focus is on public elementary and secondary schools, although the chapter includes some discussion of other educational alternatives. Education laws and policies vary from state to state; policies, indeed, vary even from school district to school district. It is true that many important aspects of educational system, such as school age and attendance requirements, residency rules, course requirements, and graduation criteria, are governed by state and local laws, rules, and policies. Parents have important rights and responsibilities in the educational system of the United States. Yet it is well known that parental participation can make a tremendous difference to a child’s education.
This chapter examines violence against women in immigrant and refugee communities, including the particular dynamics, risk factors, and consequences of violence against immigrant women. Immigrant and refugee women experience domestic, sexual, and other forms of violence in ways that are both similar and dissimilar to that experienced by women who are born in the United States, including those from marginalized communities. Women fleeing abusive situations, from female genital mutilation to domestic violence, may be able to claim protection under the Refugee Act, claiming fear of persecution based on their social group their status as women. Social workers, in collaboration with other service providers and immigration attorneys, can assist women who have been victims by helping them put together the evidence required to prove a case of abuse that may ultimately result in lawful permanent residence.